Monday, March 23, 2015


Quinnipiac , a distinctive residence in the Second Empire style build in 1884 was demolished today.

The historic residence had been identified as an "at risk" structure requiring heritage status thirteen years ago but nothing was done to have it registered for Heritage Status of protection. Designation is a legal status registered on the title to the property.

Despite a last minute rear guard defensive action by heritage activists, the 130 year old house was leveled - contents and all - in under a half-hour.

This latest example of the tearing down the old to make new for the old was met with sighs of "what a shame" and a few tears from build heritage preservationists. 

It should make for fireworks at tonight's weekly City Council meeting.
The structure was bought months ago and the new owners purchased it with a plan to tear down the building and divide the property into lots for new homes.

It was clear to anybody looking at that building that it had heritage value. All properties that are subject to demolition applications should first be investigated for possible heritage value.

What, if any, role does government have for protecting heritage properties? 

Are commercial opportunities more important than conservation? 

Is our build heritage just a ticking time bomb in the face of ineffectual regulations and legislation that leave the owners of such properties in a quandary? 

Protection from alteration or destruction, without the fifinancial support to maintain these majestic properties only ensues dereliction, decay and collapse. The end result - demolition.

The loss of Quinnipiac is a shame, but until those of us feeling the shame are willing to step up and assist in providing resources to conserve and maintain our build heritage, the future will be found in heaps of rubble.

Here is a description of the house from the pages of  O'Dea's Reality & Auction House from August, 2014.

"This home boasts extraordinary period features from an era when highly skilled artistry was treasured, with examples such as: an exotically carved white marble fireplace in the living room, bonnet dormer windows set in a mansard roof, tall arch-topped windows on the main floor and an abundant array of scroll wood ornamentation that frames the distinctive facade of this Second Empire home . One outstanding interior feature is the geometric plaster designs on all the main floor ceilings extending from the cornices and converging at the centre rosettes. Hardwood floors and mahogany doors add the richness and warmth of vintage wood, also evident on staircase railing, spindles and newel posts. Prospective buyers should also note: the paneled mahogany cloak room; panelled wood library ; paneled wainscoting at base of stairs ; sliding pocket doors that separate dining and living rooms when necessary and are all in original condition; arched stairway with corbel trim; door, window and baseboard trim are very detailed and are also original to the construction in 1883. Details of construction are evident in every angle of the exterior which includes finely bracketed eaves and brilliant main entrance.

The 14 ft high ceilings lend an extra elegance to the spacious main floor rooms which are also enhanced by several classic bays that, from the outside, extend up to the second level and end at the roof, an exquisite feat of design! A magnificent crystal chandelier graces the formal dining room.

A large bright kitchen, with space for large and extensive meal preparations, leads to the sheltered outside patio and the gardens beyond.

The grounds, which offer great privacy for those who enjoy private space, have huge potential for those with a green thumb as the house overlooks Feildian Grounds to the South, where maximum sun exposure will enhance your gardening pleasure. The tennis court which was installed by Duncan Sharpe in the 1960’s still has a sound asphalt base and with a new fence and net, one can resume play.

Rennies River flows by the southeast corner of the property, which is near multiple access points to the River Trail system. The property is also walking distance to the downtown"

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